Written by Danielle Abbruzzi — On Saturday, February 18th, Red Bull Media House hosted an exclusive East Coast screening of Distance Between Dreams at Newport, Rhode Island’s, historic Jane Pickens Theater. This was a special night for the film’s star, Ian Walsh, who was born in Rhode Island but grew up in Maui. Ian’s parents Kitty and Peter moved their family to Maui from Newport more than 30 years ago and stood beside him onstage as he spoke to a sold-out room of 472 guests.
Alongside Mom and Dad was Ian’s Godfather, Sid Abbruzzi, and director of the film, Rob Bruce. For Ian’s Newport family and friends, the film was much anticipated, and the fact that Ian flew all the way from Hawaii to Rhode Island in the middle of the busy winter wave season ensured the big turnout. Voted Best Documentary at the 2016 Surfer Poll Awards, Distance Between Dreams has been universally lauded as one of the best films in recent memory.
Speaking to the audience, Ian paid homage to his East Coast roots. “This town means so much to me than I can’t put it into words. My first waves were ridden down at First Beach and Second Beach right in front of Sid’s old shop. My initial introduction to the ocean happened here. Every time I come here feels like I’m coming home. And that’s a gigantic testimony to you guys and this community and what you uphold.”
Distance Between Dreams documents a day in the life of Ian Walsh, but in addition to Jaws-dropping surfing, it’s also a heartfelt story of a family and their support for one another. Featured in the film are Walsh’s brothers DK, Shaun, and Luke Walsh, along with current WSL World Champion John John Florence and fellow chargers Greg Long and Shane Dorian. With a focus on paddle surfing into big waves versus the tow-in method, Ian and the boys show us the next-level preparation and protection that surfers undergo to get in the water and ride massive waves, let alone survive a wipeout and get back to safety.
Director Rob Bruce said during an interview, “99.9% of surfers do not understand what goes into big-wave riding. There is so much work, training, and commitment.” Bruce, who lives in LA, is also an original East Coaster — he surfed his first waves in Westerly, RI. A former downhill ski racer, Rob left the sport to enter film school. He admired big personalities and 2002 first met Ian and his family in Maui. “I wanted to show people what they do, who they are, and what their world is,” Bruce said. “Ian is well-spoken, and all four Walsh boys are each their own individual. But like brothers going to battle, they keep an eye on each other to be sure they are all as safe as possible.” Bruce referred to Ian and his brothers’ bond and the sacrifice of their parents as the “backbone story” of the film.
Everyone in Rhode Island sends big thanks to Ian and Red Bull Media House for giving us Nor’easters 60 minutes of El Niño swells and Hawaiian sun in the middle of February! Distance Between Dreams is available on iTunes; visit www.distancebetweendreams.com for info on upcoming premieres.